– Detailed 2018 Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Review / Buyer’s Guide: Overview of New Changes + R&D Development Info and More! –
New changes are in for the 2018 Africa Twin from Honda! Honda has decided to throw some pretty big changes at the 2018 Africa Twin earlier than I had anticipated as it was just released back in 2016 and typically they’ll stretch it out for more than two years before they make some tweaks so they can of course recoup some of their original R&D money spent on developing the model to start with. This goes to show that Honda is taking the adventure motorcycle market serious for 2018 and they are out to knock some of the competition off the block or should I say trails? Below we’ll be diving into exactly what Honda changed-up and added for 2018 but before we get to that… Have you checked out the New 2018 Africa Twin Adventure Sports model that Honda just released alongside the ‘standard’ Africa Twin?
If not, check out the Adventure Sports version which is also dubbed the CRF1000L2 (instead of CRF1000L like the standard model) by Clicking Here. It not only has a larger fuel tanks and taller windshield but has a host of other protection goodies too so it’s worth checking out if you like the Africa Twin model and what it has to offer as that model may end up being more up your alley than the standard or should we say ‘base model’ Africa Twin for 2018. After you check out all of the 2018 Africa Twin detailed below, check out the other 2018 Adventure & Dual-Sport Motorcycles by Clicking Here.
We’re also in the middle of the 2017 EICMA Motorcycle Show so make sure to check out all of the new 2018 motorcycles being announced and cool concept bikes etc by Clicking Here for my EICMA posts. I’ll be adding more to that page over the next couple of days so make sure to head back over and check it out at a later date.
Check out my Detailed Africa Twin CRF1000L Development / R&D post by Clicking Here for some of the nitty-gritty details about this bike from top to bottom including frame, suspension, electronics etc.
2018 Africa Twin Review Contents:
- 1 | Introduction
- 2 | Model overview
- 3 | Key features
- 3.1 | Engine Management Electronics / Technology
- 3.2 | Engine
- 3.3 | Dual Clutch Transmission (optional)
- 3.4 | Chassis / Suspension
- 4 | Accessories
- 5 | Technical specifications
1. | Introduction
2018 marks 30 years since the legendary Honda XRV650 Africa Twin first rolled into Europe and while the motorcycle that now bears its name – launched in 2016 as the CRF1000L Africa Twin – shares no common part with its fore-runner, the machine’s ‘True Adventure’ philosophy means that it fully inherits the essence and spirit of what made the original so popular.
The balance between power and weight is at the heart of the Africa Twin’s appeal, then and now. The current version has proved itself a modern-day all-rounder, hugely popular with round-the-world adventurers, commuters and casual tourers alike, because it offers enjoyable and usable engine performance in a chassis that works as well off-road as it does on.
For 2018 Honda is building on the Africa Twin’s strengths, and its success. The base model receives a host of detail upgrades to both manual transmission and Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) options that enhance the riding and owning experience, while the new Adventure Sports version extends the platform even further into long-range off-road territory.
Mr K. Morita, Large Project Leader (LPL) 18YM CRF1000L Africa Twin
“Our CRF1000L Africa Twin has proven itself a worthy successor to the original and very much the ‘Go Anywhere’ machine that we set out to make. Over the last two years it’s a motorcycle that’s covered millions of kilometres, and we have received plentiful feedback from owners. For 2018 we have improved the engine’s response, saved weight and given the rider real choice of engine performance and feel. ”
2. | Model Overview
The secret to the CRF1000L Africa Twin’s wide-ranging abilities starts with its engine, which has to perform in off-road situations as well as on-road, over long-range tours, short commutes and all points in between. As such, it provides an optimum balance between power, torque, mass and physical dimension.
The four-valve 998cc parallel twin Unicam unit’s tractable and usable all-day performance belies its extremely compact dimensions. They are the result of clever packaging touches such as housing the water pump within the clutch casing, and using the engine’s balancer shafts to also drive water and oil pumps. As a result, longitudinally, it is the same length as Honda’s popular 500cc engine, and its short height contributes to the Africa Twin’s all-important 250mm of ground clearance.
For 2018, a modified airbox improves the mid-range response, as does a lighter balancer shaft weight. A revised exhaust serves up an even more evocative howl as revs rise and also contributes to the improved performance.
Another significant addition for 2018 is the new Throttle By Wire (TBW) system, which brings with it 3 riding modes to adjust engine character and output to suit riding conditions. Also new is an extended range of Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) input.
The unique DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) version features the standard manual mode – allowing the rider to operate gearshifts through triggers on the left handlebar – and two automatic modes. D mode offers the best balance of fuel economy and comfort cruising whilst S mode gives three different, sportier shift patterns to choose from. The DCT is also fully equipped to operate in an off-road environment and off-road functionality is enhanced by the G button. Pushing the G button in any riding mode modifies the control of the clutch system to give a more direct drive.
The Africa Twin’s semi-double cradle steel frame provides the perfect balance of high-speed stability and genuine off-road ability by combining sheer strength with flexibility. The engine is mounted on 6 engine hangers, which keeps vibration to a minimum, avoiding the need for steering dampers. For 2018, the addition of a lithium-ion battery contributes to a 5 overall weight saving, while several detail changes further improve the machine’s off-road ability and durability.
The fully adjustable 45mm Showa inverted forks, fully-adjustable rear shock, dual radial-mount Nissin four-piston brake calipers and 310mm ‘wave’ style floating discs are unchanged for 2018. The 21-inch front and 18-inch rear spoked wheels are now constructed from stainless steel, and for 2018 block tyres are also approved for fitment.
The Africa Twin is styled with minimum bodywork in a tough, lightweight form that offers both wind protection for the rider and a slim, agile feel. Dual LED headlights maintain the original’s presence, while the negative LCD meter closely follows the layout of the Dakar race machine. Seat height adjusts from the standard 33.5 inches down to 34.3, and an 4.97 gallon fuel tank – and the engine’s fuel efficiency of 51 MPG – provides a range of over 248 miles.
The 2018 Africa Twin will be available in four color options in Europe: Matte Ballistic Black Metallic, Pearl Glare White (Tricolor), Grand Prix Red (Team HRC Rally color), and Candy Chromosphere Red. At this time Honda has not released what colors we’ll be getting in the USA.
Key 2018 Africa Twin Info:
- 2018 Africa Twin Colors: Matte Black Metallic, Red / Black / White (USA colors) | (Europe colors: Matte Ballistic Black Metallic, Pearl Glare White (Tri-color), Grand Prix Red (Team HRC Rally color), and Candy Chromosphere Red)
- 2018 Africa Twin DCT Colors: Matte Black Metallic, Red / Black / White (USA colors)
- Release Date:
- 2018 Africa Twin Release Date: Summer 2018
- 2018 Africa Twin DCT Release Date: Summer 2018
- Prices / MSRP:
- 2018 Africa Twin Price: $13,499
- Price Increase: +$200 over previous year model
- 2018 Africa Twin DCT Price: $14,199
- Price Increase: +$200 over previous year model
- 2018 Africa Twin Price: $13,499
3. | Key Features
3.1 | Engine Management Electronics / Technology
- Throttle By Wire (TBW) brings with it 3 rider modes to tailor engine character and traction
- The riding modes are comprised of different levels of Power (P), Engine Braking (EB) and Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC)
- HSTC now has 7 levels and OFF
The Africa Twin Adventure Sports’ 998cc SOHC 8-valve parallel-twin engine’s 2018 upgrade sees it receive Throttle By Wire (TBW) that opens the door to four individual riding modes and an expanded Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) system.
The use of TBW greatly expands the choices available to the rider to manage engine output, feel, and rear-wheel traction. Whereas the 2017 Africa Twin had three levels of HSTC, plus OFF, the new system features seven levels—from Level 1, for aggressive riding off-road on block-pattern tires, to Level 7, for maximum sense of security on slippery, wet tarmac. It is still possible to turn HSTC completely off.
There are also 3 levels of Power and Engine Braking available.
In a set-up first used on the RC213V-S – Honda’s street legal version of its MotoGP racer – three riding modes offer pre-set combinations of each parameter, suitable to different riding environments and scenarios:
- TOUR mode employs the lowest Power (1), medium Engine Braking (2), and high HSTC (6).
- URBAN mode uses mid-level Power (2) and Engine Braking (2), and high HSTC (6).
- GRAVEL mode allows maximum Power (3) and Engine Braking (1), with high HSTC (6).
- A fourth mode – USER – allows the rider to set and save his or her preferred combination of Power, engine braking, and HSTC levels. Riding mode and HSTC level can be changed at any time using the controls on the left switchgear.
3.2 | Engine
- New intake design and exhaust aid mid-range response
- New exhaust also designed to improve engine note
- New lighter balance shaft weight
- New lithium-ion battery saves 5 lbs and enhances durability
- Power is smooth and consistent, with linear torque delivery
- Assist / slipper clutch helps upshifts and downshifts
Alongside the new engine management electronics for 2018, the 998cc SOHC eight-valve parallel-twin engine used in both Africa Twin models airbox now features a 20mm longer funnel length, matched with redesigned exhaust internals to significantly boost mid-range response and sound. The two-into-one downpipe now feeds exhaust through two catalyzers (up from one) into a simplified, smaller-volume muffler (4 liters instead of 4.6) that houses two chambers rather three.
Peak horsepower of 93 still arrives @ 7,500 RPM, with 73 ft/lb torque @ 6,000 RPM. Bore and stroke are set at 92 x 75.1mm, with compression ratio of 10.0:1; the 270° phased crankshaft and uneven firing interval create the engine’s distinctive throb and feel for rear wheel traction.
Good ground clearance – crucial to off-road performance – starts with a compact, short engine. So the crankcases are split vertically; the water pump is housed within the clutch casing with a thermostat integrated into the cylinder head. Manual and DCT versions of the engine share common crankcases with only minor external differences.
For 2018, the engine’s balancer-shaft weights that drive the water and oil pumps have been lightened by 10.6 ounces for added character and feel in power delivery. As was the case before, the crankcases are split vertically; the water pump is housed within the clutch casing, with a thermostat integrated into the cylinder head. The water and oil pumps are driven by the engine’s balancer shafts. These features contribute to the engine being compact and short, and to optimum ground clearance, a crucial element to off-road performance.
Four-valve cylinder heads, fed by PGM-FI fuel injection, each employ twin spark plugs and dual and sequential ignition control for even combustion. Honda’s SOHC Unicam® valve train is a feature of the CRF450R and the low-set position of the cast camshaft contributes to the compact nature of the cylinder head. The inlet valves are 36.5mm in diameter, whereas the exhaust valves are 31mm.
The engine uses a semi-dry sump and in-tank lower-crankcase oil storage, allowing a shallow pan depth and reducing overall engine height. As the pressure-fed pump is located within the oil tank, there is no need for a pressure-feed passage, again saving weight and space.
Secondary vibrations are neutralized by the mutually reciprocating motion of the pistons, while primary inertial and coupling vibrations are cancelled by the use of biaxial balance shafts. The front balancer shaft uses two weights, the rear only a single weight.
The aluminum clutch center and pressure plate use ‘assist’ cams to ease upshift and downshift (with light lever feel) and ‘slipper’ cams for deceleration and downshifting. The six-speed gearbox uses ‘pierced’ shape dogs for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th gear, allowing use of a smaller, lighter clutch. Oil gathering ribs on the main journal side of the primary gear ensure consistent lubrication for the gear, damper spring and primary sub-gear.
On the manual-transmission versions, the aluminum clutch center and pressure plate use “assist” cams to ease shifting (with light lever feel) and “slipper” cams for deceleration and downshifting. Oil-gathering ribs on the main journal side of the primary gear ensure consistent lubrication for the gear, damper spring, and primary sub-gear. The lightweight six-speed manual gearbox uses the same shift-cam design as found on the CRF450R to ensure positive changes.
New for 2018, a lithium-ion battery is 5.1 lbs. lighter than the lead-acid unit of the 2017 Africa Twin and offers greater longevity, both in terms of life and the ability to retain a charge.
A quickshifter is available as an optional extra.
- 2018 Africa Twin Performance Info:
- 2018 Africa Twin Horsepower: 93 HP @ 7,500 RPM
- 2018 Africa Twin DCT Horsepower: 93 HP @ 7,500 RPM
- 2018 Africa Twin Torque: 73 lb/ft TQ @ 6,000 RPM
- 2018 Africa Twin DCT Torque: 73 lb/ft TQ @ 6,000 RPM
- 2018 Africa Twin Miles Per Gallon: 51 MPG
3.3 | Dual Clutch Transmission | DCT (Optional)
- Super-fast, seamless gear changes in Manual Transmission (MT) or Automatic D mode
- S mode (with 3 levels) revs higher and downshifts sooner, for aggressive riding
- G switch improves rear wheel traction when off-road
- Incline detection adapts shift pattern depending on road gradient
Honda’s unique automatic DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) delivers consistent, super-fast seamless gear changes, and very quickly becomes second nature in use. It uses two clutches: one for start-up and 1st, 3rd and 5th gears: the other for 2nd, 4th and 6th, with the mainshaft for each clutch located inside the other for compact packaging.
Each clutch is independently controlled by its own electro-hydraulic circuit. When a gear change occurs, the system pre-selects the target gear through the clutch not currently in use. The first clutch is then electronically disengaged as the second clutch simultaneously engages. As the twin clutches transfer drive from one gear to the next with minimal interruption to rear-wheel drive, gear-change shock and pitching of the machine are minimized, resulting in shifts that are not only smooth, but direct.
The result is a consistent, fast and seamless gear change. Furthermore, as the twin clutches transfer drive from one gear to the next with minimal interruption of the drive to the rear wheel, any gear change shock and pitching of the machine is minimized, making the change feel direct as well as smooth.
The extra benefits of durability (as the gears cannot be damaged by missing a shift), impossibility of stalling, low-stress urban riding, and reduced rider fatigue add to the appeal of DCT.
Three modes of gear-change operation are available. Manual mode gives full manual control, allowing the rider to shift with the handlebar triggers. Automatic Drive mode is ideal for city and highway riding, and achieves optimum fuel efficiency. Automatic Sport mode offers three levels of sportier riding, as the ECU lets the engine rev a little higher before shifting up, and shifts down sooner when decelerating, for extra engine braking.
In either Drive or Sport mode, immediate manual intervention is possible; the rider simply selects the required gear using the up and down shift triggers on the left side of the handlebar. After an appropriate interval (depending on throttle angle, vehicle speed, and gear position), the DCT seamlessly reverts back to automatic mode.
The Africa Twin models’ DCT is also fully equipped to operate in an adventure environment, with off-road functionality enhanced by the G switch positioned on the right side of the instrument panel. In any riding mode, pushing the G switch reduces the amount of clutch slip during gear changes.
Further functionality for the DCT system comes in the form of incline detection, by means of which the gear shift pattern is adapted depending on the grade of an incline to provide optimum control.
3.4 | Chassis / Suspension
- Curb weight 4.4 lbs lighter
- Rider footepgs and pillion footpeg hangers redesigned for off-road use
- Stainless steel spokes improve durability and ease of care
- New Emergency Stop Signal function for rear indicators
The CRF1000L’s steel semi-double cradle frame provides nimble-on road manners plus high-speed stability matched to genuine off-road ability, agility and strength. Thanks to the compact design of both engine and frame, ground clearance is 9.8 inches, with wheelbase of 62.8 inches and rake and trail of 27.5°/113mm. For the 2018 model, curb weight is 4.4 pounds lighter.
A number of other updates for 2018 will be appreciated by off-road riders: the footpegs are now wider, and feature beefed-up steel mounting plates; the passenger footpeg hangers have also been redesigned to allow more room for the rider’s feet when standing, and the instruments are angled at a shallower angle to allow the rider to see them more easily from a standing position.
With stroke length of 230mm. the 45mm Showa cartridge-type inverted front fork offers class-leading levels of performance. For all-round compliance and feel the long extension stroke combines with a low spring rate and spring preload. Rebound and compression damping are fully adjustable. A cast aluminium top yoke and forged bottom yoke – joined by hollow aluminium stem shaft – clamp the fork legs with two bolts each top and bottom.
Matching the supple front suspension, the Showa rear shock delivers 220mm axle travel. Its upper mount is set low for mass centralization and it features a 46mm cylinder and remote reservoir for stable damping control under more extreme off-road riding conditions. Spring preload can be adjusted via a dial on the shock body; rebound and compression damping are also fully adjustable.
The Africa Twin is styled with minimum bodywork in tough, lightweight form that offers both weather protection for the rider and a slim, agile feel; the rear mudguard and carrier are also easily removed. Dual headlights maintain the original’s signature presence. The seat height adjusts 20mm to either 870mm or 850mm.
For 2018, the rear indicators nOw also offer an Emergency Stop Signal function. At a minimum speed of 32 MPH, with either brake working if negative acceleration of a minimum of 6.0m/s2 is detected, the hazard lights flash to warn other road users a hard stop is in process. At the same speed the threshold is reduced with ABS in play – for wet conditions – to a negative acceleration of a minimum 2.5m/s2.
The indicators now also auto-cancel; rather than using a simple timer, the system compares front and rear wheel speed difference and calculates when to cancel the indication relative to the situation.
Compact two-piece radial-mount four-piston calipers work dual 310mm ‘wave’ floating discs through sintered pads and serve up consistent stopping power and feel on-road or off. The rear 256mm ‘wave’ disc features hole punching and shaping to deliver secure braking performance. Lightweight two-channel ABS can be turned off for the rear caliper only.
Like the CRF450R Rally, the CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sports uses 21/18-inch front rear spoked wheels, wearing 90/90-21 and 150/70-18 tires. The spokes are manufactured in stainless steel for improved durability and ease of care. Also new for 2018 block pattern tyres (Continental 90/90-21M/C 545 and 150/70 B18M/C 70Q,) are now approved by Honda for aftermarket fitment and use.
4. | Accessories
A full range of genuine Honda accessories are available for the 2018 CRF1000L Africa Twin, including:
- Top box and inner bags
- Touring bags
- Aluminum luggage set
- Frame guard
- Smoke windscreen
- High windscreen
- Upper and lower wind deflectors
- Rubber passenger foot pegs
- DCT foot shifter
- Heated grips
- 12V accessory socket
- Fog lamps with cowl mounting bar
- Wheel stripes
- Alarm system
- Center stand
- Sump guard
- Lower and higher seats
5. | Technical Specifications
|Africa Twin Adventure Sports DCT (CRF1000L2D)
|CRF1000L2 Africa Twin Adventure Sports (CRF1000L2)
|CRF1000L Africa Twin DCT
|CRF1000L Africa Twin
|998cc liquid-cooled Unicam® four-stroke 22.5º parallel-twin
|SOHC; four valves per cylinder
|Bore x Stroke
|92.0mm x 75.0mm
|PGM-FI electronic fuel injection (Throttle By Wire)
|Full transistorized ignition
|6 speed automatic DCT
|6 speed manual
|6 speed automatic DCT
|6 speed manual
|2 multiplate wet
|2 multiplate wet
|45mm inverted telescopic fork; 9.9 in. travel
|45mm inverted telescopic fork; 9.1 in. travel
|Pro-Link® system w/ single shock; 9.4 in. travel
|Pro-Link system w/ single shock; 8.7 in. travel
|Two dual-piston hydraulic calipers w/ 310mm disks; ABS
|Single one-piston hydraulic caliper w/ 256mm disk; ABS
|Rake (Caster Angle)
|111mm (4.37 in.)
|111mm (4.44 in.)
|36.2 in. / 35.4 in.
|34.3 in. / 33.5 in.
*Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel—ready to ride. Meets current EPA standards. Models sold in California meet current CARB standards and may differ slightly due to emissions equipment.